Awaken Your Inner Ballerina At Jersey City's JC Barre

Can I get an "Ow-men!?"

Because that is how I feel about JC Barre, or at least how my body feels right now. Emphasis on the "ow," flair on the Amen.

I was a barre virgin up until this morning. I mean, I'm not new to a ballet barre. My mom enrolled me in ballet at age three, hoping it would help me navigate the world of long, clumsy limbs as I grew to be six feet tall. It did, and I spent my childhood dancing (I bailed stage left when we hit pointe). But it has certainly been a long time since I stood at a barre, and it all came flooding back this morning during Ruth's B3 Basics class (B3 is JC Barre's signature offering).

I've heard about the barre workout method for many years now. As a dancer and yogi, it immediately piqued my curiosity and seemed right down my alley. But a variety of reasons always kept me from trying it (I was traveling the world when barre hit the mainstream, then running all content and communications at ADC and pregnant, then bittersweetly leaving my job for SAHM-land postpartum, and then moving).

One tweet a couple weeks ago changed all that.

Hell yes, I thought. "Sure!" I replied. A studio like JC Barre is a resource for Jersey City mamas, so I wanted to do more than tweet about it. I happily agreed to share the experience here on B+aBBQ. Then I proceeded to research what I'd just gotten myself into.

First of all, what is barre? The simplest explanation is that barre blends yoga, Pilates and ballet techniques using a ballet barre and mat, and a combination of handheld weights, Pilates magic circles, resistance bands, fitness balls and more. It's low-impact, but high-intensity.

By that, I mean it buuuurrrrrnnnns. It's a full-body workout that combines strength training and cardio to tighten, trim and tone you up, so barre burns fat and builds muscle at the same time. Judging by B3 at JC Barre this morning, I was exclusively working on the burning fat part so far (I'm not sure, have I mentioned the burn yet)?

This is my "what have I gotten myself into" face. We were only at the warm up at this point.
This is my "what have I gotten myself into" face. We were only at the warm up at this point.

The class was packed (at 8:45 AM on a Sunday morning!) and while their space is not huge, it's not small either. It's well-equipped -- not only with everything you need for the workout, but with drinks and gear like t-shirts and grip socks for purchase, as well (after one class, I realize why I need to buy grip socks). They also have "freshening up" products (deodorant, etc.) in the bathroom for post-class.

If I wasn't heading straight home, I certainly could have used a "freshening up," as sweat had poured down my face the entire hour (none of the other lovely ladies in the class seemed to be sweating like I was... a newbie's curse, perhaps?). Gritting my teeth was the only thing that helped as my muscles screamed, but I still managed to smile through it all.

Not least of all because of Ruth's encouragement. She is a fantastic teacher who kept the class moving quickly, demonstrating exactly what to do, and motivating us honestly ("It's not pleasant," she'd say as we lowered into a deep squat of one kind or another, and she was not lying). Every once in a while, she'd sneak me a smile that seemed to acknowledge that maybe she knew I was dying, but that she had confidence I'd make it through.

The difficulty only made me want to come back for more. To practice until it becomes easier and easier (does barre ever become easier, or am I kidding myself?). Luckily, JC Barre has a solution for the first timer who becomes infected with a barre bug after day one, like myself. It's called a $45 unlimited one month pass for new students, by which you can binge your heart out on barre workouts (that's a mega-bargain, as the regular unlimited month is three times that price).

Every new student enjoys a free introductory B3 basics class, as well (much as I was excited and touched that Megan reached out to invite me to try, you can try it any time too!), so come barre-binge with me!

JC Barre recommends 3-4 classes per week to see fast results and I could tell from just one class that barre will definitely deliver results. Which is why I hereby declare February 2015 "The Month of The Barre." I'll be surfing in Costa Rica come March 1, so it's a well-timed challenge to take on.

No pressure, Megan, Paulina, Morgan and Ruth (the JC Barre teachers), but we definitely have our collective work cut out for us! Abs are made in the kitchen (or so every trainer and fitness expert says), so I promise to do my part a la cucina to complement all efforts at the barre this month.

"At the barre." It has a nice ring to it, eh? It had a far different ring ten years ago in college, but I think I'll definitely get a kick out of telling the Love of My Life that I'm "going to the barre"(the "re" are silent) as I leave the World's Cutest Human with him a few nights a week from now on. I'm sure it will have some positive mental effect on me, too.

P.S. Important for moms and parents: JC Barre has some great offerings geared toward families, including a Mommy & Me B3 (for very little ones) and a Kinder Barre class for older little ones. Additionally, you can book a Ladies B3 Private Affair class for a bachelorette, birthday party or just for fun with girlfriends (the class is followed by mimosas and snacks... um, yes please!) and they also offer non-barre-based dance and Zumba classes (a separate post coming soon on my "SWAG" hip hop class at JC Barre this week). Lots happening at JC Barre for the ladies and mamas of Jersey City and I highly recommend checking it all out!

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